Dec 1947-April 1948
Pages in Section 10
The Irgun attack Ramat Gan Tegart
i. Givat Hayim
ii. Irgun attack Ramat Gan Tegart
iii. Night of the Bridges
iv. Attack on Railway Workshops
v. OP Agatha
vi. Bombing of the king David Hotel
vii. Operation Shark
Note from Editor -The material on this page was contributed to an issue of the PPOCA magazine by Lt Col John Denley, the son of ex-PP Inspector Jack Denley and I have now received permission to use it online. Lt Col John Denley writes:
The following story was found amongst my late Father's papers. I have made editorial amendments only and have not interfered with factual detail or the very personal feelings expressed by my Father. I have no doubt that others, who were there, may have different views and opinions. I was there but cannot comment as I was in a pram and one of the children mentioned! Luckily, my Mother had moved me to a safer part of the police station as my pram had bullet holes in it because of the attack. It was one my spare nappies which my Mother used to staunch the wound of Dov Gruner when she was providing first aid at the end of the incident.
* Photo Copyright credit:
Denis Chapman 09/01/1946 Permission: Default permission from the Airborne Forces Archive by ParaData Editor. (The photo shows two paras at Ramat Gan cross road six months after the incident told here.)
I had then served in the Palestine Police for eleven years starting as a British Constable in 1935 and progressed through the ranks to British Inspector, which put me in charge of a Police Station and its local area. Ramat Gan Police Station was a "Tegart" building, which meant it was a fort like structure built in 1939 on the recommendation of a man called Tegart who had been in the Indian Police and these buildings had been used on the Frontier of that sub-continent. Ramat Gan (in Hebrew Garden on the hill) was a lovely place.
At this time, in April 1946, we were right in the middle of the Jewish trouble, which led up to 1948 when Britain laid down the Mandate and the state of Israel was born. There were three illegal organisations the HAGANAH, the IRGUN ZVAI LEUMI and the STERN GROUP, The latter being a splinter group of the second one. The difference being they were extreme. The I.Z.L. at this time were very short of arms, otherwise they would not have attacked a police station that was right in the centre of a populated Jewish area.
The gang got into the station by a very simple trick, first they rang up the Station and reported that there was a land dispute nearby and Arabs and Jews were fighting. This drew off all available Police because it was a very touchy situation. They had some hours previously stolen a large British Army truck and this pulled up outside and one man dressed as a British Army Sergeant came or was allowed by the guard to enter the station, at that time in the interest of security only one man was allowed to enter first. The "Sergeant" came to the charge office and said he wished to report a theft from nearby TEL LITVINSKY camp but he was pleased also to report that they had captured the thieves and recovered the property. This was a policeman's dream - a fully detected case handed to us on a plate. Corporal Abraham Levin the duty investigator told the "Sergeant" to bring them in and signalled the guard to let them in. Half the gang were dressed as soldier guards and the other half as Arab prisoners. As soon as they were in the "charge office", they easily disarmed the guards and took over that part of the station.
The Station Sergeant and a couple of constables were pinned down by heavy machine gun fire from the veranda of a house across the road. All traffic on the busy road in front of the Station ceased as the gang had blown up two culverts one each side of the station. The gang then proceeded to take out all the arms and ammunition from the Armoury and load them into the "borrowed" Army truck.
When the incident started, the Wireless Operator managed to get out a message, which consisted of the Ramat Gan call sign and the words "Attack, Attack" before he was overpowered and his radio set put out of action. This message was picked up by the operator at Petah Tikvah Police Divisional H.Q. a few miles up the road where I happened to be at the time.
I immediately set out with a small police party but our progress was delayed, en route, by a monumental traffic jam caused by the culverts being blown up. At last we arrived at the culvert obstruction and then proceeded on foot for about half a mile or so. About halfway we saw the lorry leave the police station and turn up a side road. We fired on it but failed to stop it.
When we arrived in front of the station, two men ran out with boxes of rifle ammunition on their shoulders and armed with revolvers. We fired on them and one was killed instantly, the other fell into a ditch - blood streaming from a severe face wound. I thought he was mortally wounded and ran into the building to check on my wife and two children as we lived in a flat above the police station. The only casualty was a temporary Arab constable who ran across the yard. Had he kept still he would have probably been untouched.
On returning to the front of the station I found that the man in the ditch outside had been hit a glancing wound on chin, which had made a mess of his face but was in no way fatal. I helped him up & took him into the Police Station where he was bandaged and sent to hospital. His name was DOV GRUNER.
In hospital, his wound did not at once respond and turned septic and he was very ill for a long time and nearly died. However he did recover, but it took a long time.
A few days after the attack one of my Jewish Policemen, who years later became a very senior officer in the Israeli Police, came to me and said "Inspector you must stay in the Station as much as possible". If you must go out, on duty, have a very strong escort as the Irgun have decided that if DOV GRUNER recovers and is tried by the Military Court you will be the chief witness and therefore expendable. Consequently, you have been promoted to the top of the assassination list.
However, he went on to say that the Hagana were taking the matter up on my behalf, the Hagana being the unofficial and illegal armed wing of the Jewish Agency
The reason the Hagana were sticking up for me was because I was considered a non-political policeman i.e. I did my job as a policeman and never got mixed up with politics. Additionally I had one or two very good friends who were high-ranking people in the Hagana. I had always tried to keep out of the political wrangles and leave it to the CID and Special Branch.
For a short time, I had the doubtful honour of being top of the Irgun's most wanted list. It took about a month of meetings and arguments, until the Hagana prevailed, and my name was removed from the list.
One day, my policeman contact, who was acting as a go-between with the Hagana, came into the station and said, "You can now go out as your name has been removed from the list of people to be assassinated." Such was my faith in the Hagana, I had no doubt about their word and that night I went along to the Oasis Cafe and sat and listened to the band and had a drink or two and then walked back to the station and I carried no arms.
Next- Night of the Bridges
Text - Copyright - Lt Col John Denley and the British Palestine Police Association